UFC on FOX: 15 Things First Time MMA Viewers Must Know About the Sport
Have you seen the commercials for UFC on FOX but are new to the whole MMA thing?
Don't worry, Bleacher Report has you covered.
There are many facts that people new to MMA need to know in order to better appreciate the sport and to not sound like a complete "noob" when talking to "hardcore" fans of the sport.
Some of this may seem complicated and intimidating, but it's really not that hard to understand.
So what do you need to know about MMA before you watch UFC on FOX? Read and find out!
The Sport Is Called MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), Not UFC.
When you go out and play football with your friends, you don't say "Let's go play NFL." You say "Let's go play football."
Football is the name of the sport and the NFL is just the premier organization in the sport.
Just so, mixed martial arts is the sport that's practiced in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). You don't say "He knows/does/trains UFC." You say "He knows/does/trains MMA."
Knowing this will save you from tons of embarrassment since you will earn the ire of knowledgeable fans if you make such a basic mistake.
The UFC Is Just One of Many Promotions
The UFC is just one organization or promotion inside the MMA world, but it's the most widely known and has the best fighters.
It's basically the NFL of mixed martial arts.Yes, there are other football leagues but they aren't as popular and they don't have lots of great players.
The UFC is the same. They have a majority of the world's best fighters and are by far the most popular and mainstream fight promotion.
Unlike in football though, the other organizations in MMA are more accessible. Bellator (an MMA promotion centered around tournaments) can be viewed on MTV2 and will be on Spike TV in 2013. Strikeforce (an organization owned by the parent company of the UFC, Zuffa) can be seen on Showtime.
Other smaller, regional promotions can be seen on the niche network HDNet.
These other organizations can be fun to watch because the fighters on them aren't as famous. Thus, they have to fight their hearts out in order to be somebody. This usually creates memorable fights.
Also, it can be rewarding to see a fighter on a regional fight card eventually make his way to the UFC. You'll be able to say "I was watching him before he was famous" and sound like an MMA aficionado.
The UFC Wasn't First and Wasn't Always the Best
Vale Tudo fight featuring Waldemar Santana and Helio Gracie in 1955, 48 years before UFC 1.
The UFC shook the foundations of the world in 1993 when it had its style versus style matches.
However, this wasn't the first time something like that happened.
In Brazil, Vale Tudo (Portuguese for "anything goes") fights—which were analogous to the type of fighting in the UFC—had been going on since the 1920's.
In the United States, the nation's very first televised mixed rules bout was in 1963. It was a fight between boxer Milo Savage and Judo legend Gene Lebell. Lebell choked Savage unconscious and won the fight.
No, the UFC certainly wasn't the first time a style vs. style fight or mixed rules fight happened. It also wasn't always the best MMA promotion in the world.
In the early-mid 2000's, a Japanese promotion known as Pride Fighting Championships (usually just called Pride by fans) had many of the world's best fighters and gave the UFC a run for their money.
But despite having better fighters, Pride eventually fell; Zuffa (the company that owns the UFC, if you don't remember) purchased them in March 2007.
There Are Rules, Lots of Them.
A very big no-no in modern MMA. (Photo courtesy Zuffa LLC)
One of the criticisms of mixed martial arts is that it's a horrible bloodsport with no rules. This is completely wrong; nothing could be further from the truth!
This misconception comes from the early days of the UFC. In the early events, there were very few (if any) rules.
The UFC's enthusiastic (although not exactly brilliant) marketing team played up this fact and advertised that there were no rules (even when this wasn't always true, like in UFC 1 when there were a few rules).
The "no rules" stigma stuck with mixed martial arts and the UFC despite the fact that there are now many rules and the sport is regulated.
There are in fact so many rules and regulations that they cannot all be listed suffice it to say that there is no striking to the groin, hair pulling or pokes to the eye. The entirety of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts can be read here (it's worth noting that the weight classes are in the unified rules as well. If you don't know the difference between a welterweight and a middleweight, then it's worth checking out).
There Are Women Fighters Too
Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate.
Just because there are no women fighters in the UFC doesn't mean that there aren't any women fighters.
In fact, MMA fights between women are often more exciting than many of the men's fights!
In the United States, women's MMA (abbreviated WMMA) can be seen primarily in Strikeforce and Bellator.
The most famous female fighters are Gina Carano, Christiane "Cyborg" Santos, Miesha Tate, and Zolia Gurgel.
UFC History 101: Royce (and That's Pronounced Hoyce) Gracie and UFC 1
The very first UFC event saw the least physically imposing fighter win the tournament. Who was this man, Brazil's very own Royce Gracie (and that "R" is pronounced like an "H". This is vital to know because if you pronounce "Royce" like it looks, you'll be branded a "noob" for life).
Royce Gracie's style was one known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The world called it Gracie Jiu-Jitsu at the time but the sport has since passed the Gracie family by.
What's important to know is that Royce Gracie managed to win because he knew how to fight on the ground and most of the other competitors didn't.
Speaking of ground fighting...
It's Called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and It's Not "Gay"
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art predicated on taking your opponent to the ground and submitting him (making him give up via tapping the mat/opponent or verbally) with chokes or joint locks.
Some of the positions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (abbreviated as BJJ) may look a bit...questionable for two guys to be in, but insulting such positions says nothing about BJJ and a lot about the maturity of the person who is doing the dissing.
Also, if you think it's "gay," go tell a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. It's doubtful that you'll think it's gay when one of your limbs is about to be broken or you're about to be choked unconscious.
The art is technical. If you aren't knowledgeable in it and you think it's just "guys rolling around on the floor, hugging, you're wrong. There are many things going on, it's just that you don't see them all if you've never trained in any grappling art.
Wrestling Is Very Important in MMA
Many people are ignorant of how important a martial art wrestling is (and this is collegiate/amateur wrestling, not the WWE).
Wrestlers are some of the most finely conditioned and mentally tough athletes in the world. Their ability to take people down to the mat as well as avoid takedowns is perhaps the best tool in mixed martial arts, since that enables them to determine whether the fight takes place standing up or on the ground.
Wrestling makes a phenomenal "base" for MMA, meaning it's easier for a wrestler to incorporate striking and BJJ into his game than for a BJJ fighter or a striker to incorporate high-level wrestling.
The Best Style Is No Style
Despite the importance of wrestling in MMA, there is not one style that's better than all the others.
The best style in mixed martial arts is no style, meaning that a fighter needs to be well versed in all areas of fighting (striking, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, etc.) in order to be successful.
MMA Is as Real as It Gets, Unlike WWE
UFC President Dana White and WWE CEO Vince McMahon.
MMA and professional wrestling have NO relation to one another. You can't win by a three-count, a guy's friends can't barge in with chairs, a fighter's music doesn't play when he wins, nobody gets slammed through tables, none of that stuff.
Most importantly, the UFC is NOT fake/predetermined like the WWE. The UFC is as real as it gets, the WWE is as fake as it gets.
MMA Is Actually Safer Than Boxing
Compare the amount of deaths in boxing (1,465 according to one study) and compare the amount of deaths in sanctioned MMA (two).
What about the little gloves?
Boxing gloves are meant to protect the hand, not the head, so really it's not much safer in that sense.
Also, the rules of boxing guarantee repeated head trauma. If a boxer is knocked down, he has 10 seconds to get up only to get pummeled again.
In MMA, if a fighter loses consciousness the fight is stopped and he doesn't have to suffer another knock down.
Repeated damage to the head adds up. Look at boxers later in their lives and careers and look at MMA fighters. Boxers slur and can barely be understood, MMA fighters don't have such problems.
Also, the addition of submission holds make the sport safer. In boxing, it's guaranteed that you're going to take many, many punches to the head. In MMA, this isn't always the case.
One fighter could take another down and submit him. If the fighter taps out, the fight is over and both men can walk away without a scratch.
No, You Can't Beat These Guys Up, Even If You Bench Press More Than They Do
When a fighter does poorly or if he is in one of the lighter weight classes, some people like to boast that even they could beat that fighter up.
"This guy sucks, even I could beat him!" or "135 pounds? I could throw this guy through the wall!" are such statements.
In almost all cases, these notions aren't true.
Professional fighters are just that, professional fighters. They would be able to handle you, even if you bench press more than they do or weigh more.
Just Because It Might Look Easy at Times, Doesn't Mean It Is
Looks easy? You try it. (Photo courtesy ESPN).
The fighters you'll be watching on FOX this Saturday—UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and challenger Junior Dos Santos—will be so skilled that they'll make the sport look easy.
Don't be fooled though, it isn't.The fighters in the UFC are just so good that they make it look like complex submissions, takedowns, and combinations are easy to pull off.
And if you really do think it's easy, sign up at your local MMA gym and find out first hand how easy it is.
There’s No Such Thing as a Boring Fight
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
There's no such thing as a boring fight, only fans who can't appreciate certain aspects of the fight game.
BJJ is complex, wrestling is complex, striking is complex. If you can't appreciate the technique of a wrestler who can stymie his opponent and control him as if he were or the skill of an elusive counter-striker, why are you watching in the first place?
Who's Fighting on UFC on FOX?
UFC on FOX will only be one fight but it's one important fight.
The UFC heavyweight championship will be at stake. The current champion is a man by the name of Cain Velasquez.
Velasquez has a wrestling base but is also quite a skilled striker. He has a brown belt in BJJ but he hasn't shown off much of his skill in the art, preferring to use his strikes instead of his submissions. He is undefeated in MMA with a record of 9-0. His fight against the challenger, Junior Dos Santos, will be his first title defense.
Dos Santos is a Brazilian fighter whose specialty is boxing. In fact, he has the most technical boxing and some of the most powerful hands in the UFC and in all of MMA. He is also skilled in wrestling (although not quite as good as Velasquez) and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The fight promises to be an excellent one. Tune in, it doesn't cost anything and it'll be the most fun you've had watching combat sports!